CONCLUSION: PRELUDE TO REQUIEM?
An appraisal of U.S. efforts to promote an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict yields mixed results. Two decades have seen much change in the Middle East, some for the better -- and some that raise the question of whether the accrued benefits will endure.
In terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict itself, the clearest U.S. achievement to date is the peace between Israel and Egypt. Whatever the future offers, this will remain a political milestone in the history of the Middle East, as well as in the history of American diplomacy. Sinai II and Camp David also rightfully take their places in the annals of imaginative and productive diplomatic efforts.
In terms of broader U.S. interests, the seminal roles of Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter in bringing Sinai II into existence and then nurturing it into the 1979 Egyptian -- Israeli peace treaty not only drastically reduced the disturbing impact of Arab-Israeli tensions on U.S. policymakers, but did so while simultaneously excluding the Soviet Union from the mainstream of contemporary Middle East political currents. With Moscow marginalized, and local Arab opponents of Egypt's turnabout unable to do more than vent frustration in bombastic rhetoric and annoying, but essentially inconsequential, occasional slashes of violence and terrorism, Washington seemed to have secured its niche as the Middle East's dominant outside power.
On the other hand, Sinai II, Camp David, and the U.S.-sponsored Egyptian -- Israeli peace were not pristine diplomatic coups. The proverbial fly in the ointment was present from the outset in the form of a question: "What next?"
To the extent that consideration was given to the problem of extending the Egyptian -- Israeli peace process to other realms, the difficulty was embryonically inherent in Sinai II. Under Kissinger, however, with a